Editor’s Note: Although our blog is public health-focused, we believe it is important to continue to explore advances in basic science and medical research as they impact public health and vice versa. In this spirit we here recommend a thoughtful essay by fellow NU Neuroscience doctoral student about the biology behind racial and other biases. As public health workers and scholars, dealing with biases is an unavoidable part of our lives and work. From gun violence to health care disparity, prejudice and stereotyping alters our behavior – consciously or unconsciously. Perhaps understanding the biology behind our biases might help remove these unconscious prejudices. We encourage you to read this take on stereotypes, and to check out the Gray Matters blog!
On a crisp fall evening of November last year, a young woman was heading home after a night out with friends. In the early hours of the morning, she reportedly sped down the street and hit a parked car. Confused and discombobulated, she wandered to a nearby house in search of help, and after banging on the door, she watched as it opened to a man behind the screen. He was standing there with his shotgun raised towards her. Before she could say anything, he shot her in the face.
The facts of this story make it particularly shocking and horrific, but it is made more complicated by the fact that Renisha McBride was African American and her killer, Theodore Wafer is white.
Some scholars have argued that racial bias has declined due to strengthening of egalitarian social norms, but anyone who tries to argue that racism is a thing of the past is not…
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